Posted by: mrrx | September 2, 2005

Everquest Economy, Part 2

From a player perspective – how should the economy work?

The EQ2 economy has faucets, sinks, and drains. Money enters from faucets, and leaves permanently from drains. Within the sink, much economic activity happens, and this is where all the fun is generated – player to player sales. Can I sell my palladium cluster for x plat? Can I manage to get a palladium cluster for y gold ? Another thing which happens, is players store the value of their cash for various reasons.

Now when you store your funds in the real world, almost certainly they end up back in the economy in the form of investment, unless you stick your money in a coffee can. Not in Everquest2. Go ahead, ask the banker what your interest rate is; or if you can have a loan. In the strictest sense, no money held is actually driving any part of the economy.

So given that, how do you determine when the cash in the system is too high or too low ? You need to know the amount of funds which the players are expecting to spend right now, versus that which is just being stored. If nothing is going to convince me to part with my 10 plat, why worry about it in the inflationary sense ?

(plat held by players) X (% held which is spendable) / (number of players). Something like this equation can be used as a measurement. Compare the results at specific times and you know how much inflation is driving your economy. The problem being, that second term there is not something knowable by the developers.

I'm coming full circle here, on commenting on Jeff's post – he's pretty much correct. The amount of money in the sink isn't that important. What's important is preventing runaway inflation, yet any count of cash in the system won't provide useful information in assessing inflation.

Can inflation be controlled, for a player, by dumping cash for investments ? It's possible. If you're concerned about inflation buy every highest-dollar-value item and store them. Stackable ones would be particularly good. The trick being, you can't buy anything from the vendors as they usually do not recognize inflation. But that leads to another thought.

Suppose the game designers had a way to measure inflation. If they did, they could create something like an investment merchant. His sole purpose is to sell items to players as hedges against inflation. Buy the Antonia Bayle Certificate of Deposit, and if inflation increases by 50%, then the value of that certificate when sold back to the investment merchant also increases by 50%. The purchase price of the items would probably need to vary from, say, 50 gold to 500 plat, given the 20-stack limitations. Players could park excess dollars here and be free from inflation. SOE staff adjust the vendors prices on some predetermined basis depending upon inflation.

Come to think of it, I'm giving out the method to determine (% that is spendable) of cash in the economy. Think of it as cash held by players being the important measure of cash and thus inflation. Any cash parked on the investment merchant's items is not counted. This would only work if the merchant's items could not be resold until a certain amount of time passed, or were sold with a penalty, which probably introduces too much difficulty in tracking given the existing game.

But the method might be valuable for some new game.

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